Jen Beattie and Lauren Hemp preview this weekend’s FA Women’s Cup final between City and West Ham…
Jen Beattie knows about big games and how to handle expectation.
Capped more than 100 times by Scotland, she’s played a pivotal role in City’s successes over the past few years and has had another excellent season for Nick Cushing’s side.
The Glasgow-born defender was part of the City team that won the FA Cup in 2017, though she was on the bench as the Blues beat Birmingham 4-1 at Wembley.
She believes securing the Continental Cup earlier this season has spurred the team on to try and win more silverware, and though the league title was won by Arsenal last weekend, Beattie says the FA Cup would soften the disappointment.
“I think winning the first trophy of the season was definitely a massive boost for us, physically and mentally, for us to kick on for the rest of the season,” said Beattie.
“The opportunity to win another trophy at this stage of the campaign is fantastic.
“It’s an occasion everyone in this league wants to be a part of and as a player, it’s exciting to be able to go to Wembley and play on such a huge stage in front of our fans plus friends and family as well.
“We are really looking forward to it. You see Wembley on TV and, as a Club, we’ve obviously been there before but to actually play in the stadium is unbelievable. It just adds another layer of pride.”
Beattie is urging caution ahead of the final despite City having won both league encounters with the Hammers this season, scoring 10 goals in the process.
“It’s tough because both those games were completely different,” she said.
“It was quite a high score at home, but the away game was a lot trickier, so we expect a similar test this time and we know in a cup final it’s winner takes all and anything can happen, but we’ll try and take our momentum and current form into the final and take everything in our stride.
“People keep saying West Ham are the underdogs, but they will be a very tough opponent on the day.
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“I’ve really enjoyed this season and as I say, getting a trophy in the bag early was great so if we could win the FA Cup, it would be the perfect way to end what has been a really good season for us.”
Meanwhile, teenage forward Lauren Hemp is thrilled at the prospect of playing on English football’s biggest stage.
The 18-year-old young England star will celebrate a year with City later this month – and winning the FA Cup would be the perfect end to a fantastic first 12 months with the Blues.
“I’m really excited,” said Hemp. “The Conti Cup final was a new experience for me as a professional and I’ve never played at Wembley before so I can’t wait.
“The squad is in a really good place and we’re all itching to get out there and play the game and I just want to play my part for the team and bring the trophy home.
“It will be the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of, so that’s something else I’m really looking forward to and a real positive for the women’s game and hopefully it will encourage youngsters girls to start playing when they see how special a game at Wembley is.”
Hemp says playing alongside some of City’s experienced campaigners has also helped her game come along leaps and bounds.
She added: “I think I’ve massively improved as a player this season and improved as a person on and off the pitch and that’s thanks to being around players like Steph, Karen and Jill – I’ve really enjoyed my first season with City and I just want to kick on for next season.
“We’re confident, but we know there is a tough game ahead so there’s a lot of hard work to be done if we want to win the FA Cup, but that’s what we’re aiming to do.”